With an influential Metropolitan Council advisory committee’s long-awaited recommendations for the Southwest light rail project just a week away, the option of rerouting freight rail traffic through St. Louis Park is looking increasingly unlikely.
The re-route option was glossed over during a Monday meeting of the County Transit Improvement Board, and Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin told the Star Tribune that there’s “little if any real ability to compel” the railroad to move.
But homeowners and residents in the Kenilworth neighborhood don’t plan to stand quietly by should the Met Council chose to co-locate freight rail and light rail along the bike trail that runs through their midst between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake.
The Kenilworth Preservation Group has been raising money to wage a lawsuit should the Met Council decide to pursue co-location on Oct. 9.
If the Met Council picks a shallow tunnel or co-location, there could be a lawsuit presented by people out there in the city,” Stuart Chazin, who heads the Kenilworth organization, told KSTP.
The group has hired the law firm of Gray Plant Moody to prepare litigation, but Chazin said that members of the Kenilworth Preservation Group and other neighborhood residents hope to avoid filing suit.
We’re "encouraging the city of Minneapolis to fight the Met Council's ideas through legal means, if necessary,” he told the station.
Some local lawmakers have speculated in recent weeks that the inability of St. Louis Park and Minneapolis to come to a consensus on relocation vs. co-location could derail the project.
But a firewalled Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal cover story took a strong contrary stance, arguing that the project is not “teetering on the brink of cancellation.”
“Most companies that plan to work on the project or make investments near the route are proceeding as if nothing’s amiss,” the paper wrote. “They expect the ongoing feuds will calm down and construction will start as planned in 2015.”More answers and specific figures will come next week, when the Met Council hears its project staff’s recommendations for the Southwest Light Rail line’s scope and budget.